Belfast Telegraph

Bill Clinton meets Sinn Fein and DUP during Northern Ireland visit to try to crack political deadlock

US president Bill Clinton was in Belfast to try and broker a deal in the Northern Ireland political stalemate.

Mr Clinton had been due to arrive on Monday but was delayed by the storm. 

On Tuesday he met with DUP leader Arlene Foster, and in a separate meeting, met with Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

Tuesday's meeting with Arlene Foster took place at the Culloden Hotel, and focused partly on an announcement by Dublin City University, Ulster University and the University of Massachusetts of a joint initiative to remodel the Clinton Centre in Enniskillen.

The Clinton Centre was opened by President Clinton in 2002 and is dedicated to peace and prosperity around the world.

Speaking during a joint press conference, Mrs Foster said: "I am delighted to welcome President Bill Clinton to Northern Ireland.  He is no stranger to us and we deeply appreciate the part he has played over many years in helping to ensure Northern Ireland has a peaceful and prosperous future.

"I welcome plans to remodel and expand the work of the Clinton Centre.  It is a significant boost to Enniskillen in particular and Northern Ireland in general.

"The collaborative nature of this project is significant.  It involves working in partnership with the University of Ulster, Dublin City University and Massachusetts University who will deliver a significant academic programme.  This model will benefit all involved as well as boost the entire area."

Sinn Fein's senior representatives met with President Clinton in Belfast.

Speaking following the meeting, Michelle O'Neill said: "Gerry Adams and I met with President Clinton in Belfast today [Tuesday].

"We had a wide ranging discussion on a number of issues including the current difficulties facing the political process, efforts to restore the political institutions on the basis of rights and equality and the implications of Brexit."

Ongoing deadlock

Northern Ireland's devolved institutions have been in limbo since Sinn Fein walked out of government in January. Months of talks have failed in reaching a deal between the republicans and the DUP.

With no end in sight to the political stalemate, the region could be moving back to direct rule.

Since his first visit to Northern Ireland in 1995, Bill Clinton has been the most high-profile international champion of the peace process.

Three visits while he was US president and several since he left office have underlined his commitment to being an enabler of compromise.

However, he has also taken on the role of exerting pressure on both sides when political progress seemed to have stalled.

Mr Clinton received an honorary doctorate from Dublin City University on Tuesday morning.

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